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Prosecutor Stirs Controversy by Releasing Analysis of Tamir Rice Shooting Video

An attorney for Rice’s family say a new report that includes images from two surveillance cameras contains “editorial comments that attempt to make excuses for the officers."

by Atoosa Moinzadeh
Nov 29 2015, 5:40pm

Image via Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office

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Prosecutors in Ohio have released a 326-page document that offers frame-by-frame analysis of surveillance footage that shows the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer last year.

The incident, which occurred on November 22, 2014, was captured on surveillance cameras outside the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland. The footage shows Rice, who had a pellet gun tucked in his waistband, being gunned down by rookie Officer Timothy Loehmann moments after a police cruiser driven by his training officer Frank Garmback arrives on the scene.

The new report doesn't include any new or substantive information about the shooting, but a handful of frames include text overlays that explain what is taking place. The still images were enhanced by Grant Fredericks of Forensic Video Solutions in Spokane, Washington, according to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.

Related: Tamir Rice Report Finds No Hard Evidence Cop Gave Warning to Raise Hands Before Shooting

"The enhancement shows 326 still frames and timeline of events from two different surveillance cameras," McGinty said in a statement. "It uses metadata from the surveillance video to establish the timeline of events."

McGinty released Saturday's report (see PDF below) on the footage in what he called the "spirit of openness," but it quickly drew criticism because some of the comments added to the frames could be interpreted as supporting police claims that Loehmann was justified in shooting Rice. One frame notes that Rice "moves forward and lowers arm to waist," as the passenger door opens on Loehmann's car while the vehicle is still in motion. The report says "Rice's right shoulder and arm move upward," as "Loehmann exits police vehicle." Loehmann shot Rice moments later.

The report also notes the clothes worn by Rice — "light upper garment with dark sleeves and dark pants" — and that he appeared to be moving toward the police vehicle prior to the shooting. An image of Rice standing in a covered area of the park points out that his "hands are together in front of his stomach area."

Subodh Chandra, an attorney representing Rice's mother, released a statement that criticized McGinty for releasing the report, according to local media.

"The frames contain editorial comments that attempt to make excuses for the officers," Chandra said. "Tamir, for example, may be lifting his arm in shocked reaction to being shot. The effort to characterize the evidence is hardly fair play and is one of many reasons the Rice family and clergy throughout Cleveland lack confidence in the prosecutor's fairness in this matter."

Related: Prosecutor Slammed for Releasing Reports That Call Tamir Rice Shooting 'Reasonable'

Chandra also claimed the the footage proves that Rice was not reaching into his waistband for the toy gun, as police have maintained.

McGinty's office previously came under fire for releasing a pair of reports by a retired FBI agent and an out-of-state prosecutor that called the shooting "reasonable" before any grand jury decision on charges had been announced. One of the reports, by private security consultant W. Ken Katsaris, concluded that the shooting "was clearly objectively reasonable, given the totality of the circumstances." The report said officers had no way of knowing that Rice's toy gun was not real.

The grand jury began hearing evidence about the shooting five weeks ago, and will have the opportunity to review the series of images released on Saturday. Attorneys for Rice's family have asked McGinty to to allow their use-of-force experts to testify before the grand jury.

Rice's family released a letter on Friday that cited their own use-of-force experts as saying they "strenuously disagreed with the conclusions of [the] so-called experts who concluded the shooting of Tamir Rice was reasonable and justified."

Loehmann and Garmback confronted Rice after a man dialed 911 to report that somebody was brandishing a gun and pointing it at people. The caller noted that the gun might be fake and that Rice appeared to be a minor, but the dispatcher did not pass that information along to the officers.

Related: Judge Says There's Enough Evidence to Charge Cleveland Cop With Murder of Tamir Rice

The experts hired by Rice's family have said Garmback and Loehmann made a "reckless tactical decision" in stopping their car so close to Rice, saying they should have pulled up a farther away in order to assess the situation. The Rice family experts said the officers "created the alleged danger," and that stopping so closely "directly led to Tamir's death."

Activists in Cleveland have called for McGinty to step down, but the prosecutor has refused to remove himself from the case. A spokesman for McGinty said Saturday that there will be "discussions with the Rice family attorneys about allowing their experts to testify before the grand jury," the Associated Press reported.

Last week marked a year since Rice was killed, and demonstrations were held in cities across the country, including a large peaceful march in New York City on Monday.

Follow Atoosa Moinzadeh on Twitter: @amoinzadeh

Prosecutors Release 'Video Enhancement' of Tamir Rice Shooting